“All Together in One Place” by Rev. J.C. Austin

This Sunday is Pentecost, the Christian holiday celebrating the gift of the Holy Spirit to Christ’s disciples, just as he promised would happen, and which effectively created the Christian church as a movement. It’s a dramatic story that takes place in the second chapter of the book of Acts in the New Testament, and it begins with the sentence, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.”

In other words, the original disciples of Jesus had gathered in the same place, which was notable because they had spent most of the time after the resurrection of Christ in different places, scattered about as some hid in fear of the authorities who had executed Jesus, while others tried to return to their ordinary lives from before they started following Jesus.

But on this day, they had all gathered together, perhaps to celebrate Pentecost itself. Pentecost is actually a word that got used by some Greek-speaking Jews to refer to the Jewish festival of Shavuot, which functioned as both a harvest festival and a celebration of the gift of the Law to Moses; Shavuot is still celebrated by Jews today for that. In any case, while the disciples were gathered in one place, the Holy Spirit descended on them, and they began pouring out into the streets to preach the gospel.

We are going to celebrate Pentecost at First Pres in two particular ways. First, we also are going to gather together in one place. The Session has decided that we will have 4-6 combined worship services each year, times in which the whole church will gather in one place and worship with elements of both traditional and contemporary style. Sometimes this will be for a particular reason in terms of church life, such as we did back in February for the annual congregational meeting. Sometimes it will be for worship reasons, which is why we are gathering this Sunday.

There is probably no day of the Christian year better suited for coming together in one place than Pentecost, so we will be doing so this Sunday at 10 a.m. in the Kirk Center. I hope you will make a point of attending and wearing something red to celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit not only to the early church, but to us here at First Pres in guiding and energizing us as a congregation.
Second, I hope you will stick around after worship for the Ministry Fair that will be taking place during the Hospitality Hour. There is also probably no better day in the Christian year than Pentecost to highlight the range of ministries that First Pres is doing to proclaim the gospel, and invite you to respond by finding a ministry that aligns with your gifts and sense of call!
So: Pentecost Sunday will be a special day at First Pres, and I hope you will be a part of the celebration! I look forward to being with you on Sunday and experiencing the Spirit move in and through us!
Grace and Peace,